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The crowd in the Barclays Center clearly loved it. Apart from an awkward live performance by DJ Khaled who just didn’t seem to connect with the audience (and didn’t seem to know what the event was for anyway), the atmosphere was buzzing. Viewing numbers on Twitch were good with 350.000 concurrent viewers. But nowhere near the highest on a live eSports event actually. The big League of Legends final in 2017 peaked at around a million. Also on traditional tv stations like ESPN and ABC that aired the event live the numbers were not impressive. Some even say underwhelming, with and estimated 200.000 viewers for the main event.

 

Does it matter that the biggest eSports event failed to connect to a mainstream audience? Not really. Compared to the 100.000 live viewers OWL matches normally get, the final just tripled its numbers. And eSports watchers are not normally the type that turn to television for their favorite pastime. In that perspective the ESPN and ABC numbers are really quite okay.

 

Blizzard Entertainment will likely go for season 2 of the Overwatch League. It gives the fans the opportunity to share their love for gaming and meet some of the professional players in real life. It’s hard for the traditional sports fans to believe, but that has the same impact as watching a football game live and seeing your idols on the pitch.

 

eSports is for a niche audience. But that audience is growing to become mainstream.

 

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